Few dates in the calendar signal an excuse for a booze-up as noisily as St Patrick’s Day, with shamrock-waving revellers painting the town green, irrespective of the nationality stamped on their passport. With Guinness shifting over 13 million pints around the world on that one day alone, the ‘Apostle of Ireland’ receives more than his fair share of toasts.
But Ireland isn’t only known for the black stuff – here are ten more local drinks guaranteed to get you in the spirit.
1. Writer’s Tears Pot Still Irish Whiskey, 40%: £28 for 700ml, Marks & Spencer
Pot still whiskey is one of the Emerald Isle’s golden treasures – a uniquely Irish tipple made from both green and malted barley. This blended version is a warming drop of sweet, oaky spice and toasty almond flavours. Great value.
2. Bán Poitín, 48%: £34.95 for 700ml, Master of Malt
Irish moonshine poitín – pronounced ‘pot-cheen’ – is undergoing a revival and this example, distilled from potatoes, barley and sugar beet, is one of the best. Grainy, tinged with bitterness and seriously strong, use it to add some Irish mischief to your favourite cocktail.
3. Craigies Cider, The Ballyhook Flyer, 5.8%: £3.85 for 500ml, The Fine Wine Company
Ireland has caught the cider-making bug with craft producers cropping up all over the country. Craigies is one of the finest – its Ballyhook Flyer has a homely, apple-pie aroma and a good amount of tannin, giving it a crisp depth of flavour and a satisfying dry finish.
4. Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 46%: £42.95 for 700ml, Master of Malt
A single malt with a reasonable price tag, this relative newcomer is a bit special. A mellow and light citrus fruitiness, sweet at first, gradually intensifies with a flicker of peppery spice. Keep this one to yourself while the party rages outside.
5. Finnbarra Dry Irish Craft Cider, 5.5%: £2.99 for 500ml, Beers of Europe
The juice in this golden nectar has been coaxed from apples lovingly nurtured on the Cork coast. It’s an easy-drinker with a light fizz and toffee apple sweetness – it’ll quench the thirst of the liveliest revellers and refresh you to the core.
6. Guinness West Indian Porter: £2 for 500ml, Morrisons
For Guinness devotees looking for something a little different, the famous Dublin brewery has delved into its recipe archives for a new range of beers. The pick of the bunch is this porter, another sumptuous dark drop that fizzes with roasted, bitter and dry hop flavours.
7. O’Hara’s Irish Red, 4.3%: £1.99 for 500ml, Ocado
Add a splash of red to the festival of green with another popular Irish beer style, excellently crafted in County Carlow. Irish red ales luxuriate in rich, fruity, caramel malt flavours, with this fine example also parading a good dose of earthy hop bitterness.
8. Powers Gold Label Irish Whiskey, 40%: £24.20 for 700ml, Master of Malt
Be the leader of the craic with one of Ireland’s best-selling whiskeys. With honey and oak spices at the fore, it can be enjoyed on its own or plunged into caffeine and cream for an indulgent pre-party Irish coffee.
9. Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Irish Cream Liqueur, 17%: £6.50 for 350ml, Sainsbury's
A silky smooth blend of whiskey, cream and coffee, this own-label liqueur more than matches some more established brands at a price to get you purring. Pour over ice and melt into creamy heaven.
10. Celtic Honey Irish Whiskey Liqueur, 30%: £26.95 for 700ml, The Whisky Exchange
Ireland’s hardest working bees have produced the honey in this lip-lickingly good liqueur, with local spring water and forest botanicals infused in the whiskey mix. Pour over ice or add a twist of lemon for a true taste of the Irish wild.
Craigies cider, Teeling whiskey and Bán Poitín are particularly fine examples of Irish booze-making craft, but for exceptional quality at a great value price, fill your tumbler with Writer’s Tears and let the party begin.